“Reboot” – Observations from the first OutDoor by ISPO
This is the word that best describes the prevailing spirit at the first OutDoor by ISPO that took place in Munich June 29 through July 3. According to the trade show organizers, 1,018 exhibitors participated, more than 22,000 people from 90 countries attended, and 18 areas of focus were featured showcasing a new topic aimed at the “modern outdoor world.” 84 percent of exhibitors we international. Total. Countries with the largest participation were Germany, UK, Italy, the Netherlands, China, Sweden and the USA.
The spirit behind the outdoor industry in Europe is alive and well, even though the financial numbers may indicate otherwise, as growth is relatively stagnant. There is a clear and definite revolution taking place across all facets of the industry. Key observations included:
- The chief call to arms was for product design incorporating sustainability and circularity (some referred to this movement as religious)
- The clear demand for a new world of retail engagement and a renewed, in-store consumer experience
- The continued blending of fashion and outdoor
- The fact that the urban connection is critical
- Perhaps most importantly, today, consumers are dictating to brands and retailers their definition of the outdoor experience, not the other way around. This, in turn, is driving design, story-telling, and access to the outdoors and technology.
We came away with a keen sense that the industry itself was calling for a reset.
The Definition of the Outdoor Experience is being Driven by Consumers. The show offered a distinct blend of classic outdoor pursuits, e.g. trail running and hiking, but, more importantly, drew attention to the fact that consumers are defining their own idea of the outdoor experience and will make buying choices based on their needs.
The Modern and Urban Outdoors is Top of Mind. The modern and urban outdoor experience is translating to more activities in cities, adventure travel and biking.
Peripheral but Relevant Technology Industries Are Inching Closer, Paving the Way to Collaboration. The cross–industry segment brought in related environmental technologies, e.g., printed electronics, paving the way for alliances with related industries outside the immediate outdoor industry.
Stagnant Financials in the Marketplace Call for a Reboot. The European outdoor market, valued at approximately 5 billion euros, is relatively stagnant, thus the strong call for a reboot. One key European trade used the words, “game over” referring to the fact that the old ways of developing product and conducting business are over. We felt this clear tipping point in all of the halls.
Other Key Prevailing Trends. Doing more with less, health tourism (being one with nature), the use of AI in the world of fashion (the growing importance of data) and, lastly, small is big.
Here are a few more trends that we observed:
- From millennials to families to senior citizens – consumers are developing their own definition of the outdoors and will choose products based on their needs – whether this is glamping or bike tours.
- Urbanization is driving new outdoor movements.
- Urban mobility– the increasing desire to live without cars is trending, especially in larger cities – where bicycle and e-mobility are “booming.”
- Sustainability and a sense of being one with nature are becoming increasingly important.
- The circular economy must be incorporated into supply chains.
- A key theme was, “how do we make more money by selling less?”followed by “The greenest jacket is the one you already own.”
- The key to sustainability is longevity, aka durability:
- Physical durability
- Fit durability
- Emotional durability
- Glamping and “bike packing” are new modes of travel.
- Stand up paddling continues to gain ground because it offers easy access to the water.
- According to reliable statistics, people spend 95% of their time in enclosed spaces leading to the need to create convenient outdoor activities for towns and cities.
- Camping is robust, but more multi-faceted that before – it now includes luxury camping and tree houses for destinations.
- Cycling and e-mobility are booming, which translate to a demand for apparel that can easily transition from traveling to work.
- Health tourism is on the rise– e.g. glamping, luxury camping, tree houses and micro cabins.
- Athleisure is still hot, merging performance sports and fashion from High Street.
- New digital technologies could reboot the fashion sector to a new level of environmental and financial well-being.
- Small is big, meaning that consumers are looking for unique brands off the beaten path that are fresh and new.
- There is a call to keep apparel longer.
- Climbing in Europe continues to be very strong– up 6% from last year.
- Artificial intelligence is front and center and is being used to address the key issues of over consumption and waste.
- In fashion, data is now king.
- Like running fashion, trail running fashion is gradually becoming suitable for everyday use. Consumers continue to wear athletic shoes just because they’re comfortable.
- Outdoor is continuing to have its fashion moment, because outdoor is trendy.
- Sneakers, trekking sandals and, above all, hiking boots have become absolute fashion products that were omni-present on the most recent catwalks of the big fashion shows.
- Traditional ways of retailing are dead (service, however, is king)– “choose a product, pay and leave” is a thing of the past. Consumers, especially younger consumers, want to understand the whole brand story, not just the product features.